Fri, 29 Jan 2021

The Blitz: Keeping the Special in Special Teams

Miami Dolphins
03 Dec 2020, 07:05 GMT+10

Travis Wingfield December 2, 2020

Just like that, we're on to Week 13 of the 2020 NFL season. The Dolphins are winners of six of the past seven games and continue to get it done with a complementary brand of football. Today on The Blitz, we'll focus on Jason Sanders and the Dolphins kicking game operation, kickoff coverage prowess, get more context on cornerback Xavien Howard's season and revisit Dan Marino's record-breaking day in 1984.

Here's what's happening today in Davie.

Injury Report

The first Dolphins-Bengals Week 13 injury report will be available this afternoon.

They Said It

The Dolphins have called on Jason Sanders 51 times this season (25 field goals, 26 extra points). He's split the uprights on 50 of those kicks, giving him 98 points on the season (tied for fourth in the NFL).

Tuesday, Special Teams Coordinator Danny Crossman talked about Sanders mirroring his A-plus kicking season with the character to match.

"I think Jason is an outstanding young man, first and foremost," Crossman said. "Obviously he's very, very talented. We feel very, very fortunate to have him. There are a million things I can talk about, just like with a lot of these players - a lot of them I'll keep private. Just a great kid and a joy to work with on a day-to-day basis."

Sanders' value goes beyond scoring points. He regularly pins opposing return teams inside the 25-yard-line (the starting field position after touchbacks). The opposition has returned 18 kickoffs this season for 302 yards, an average of 16.8 yards per return. That number, which is the best in the NFL, validates Miami's decision to entice returners to test their coverage unit.

"I think it's a combination of a lot of things," Crossman said. "I think it's something that we look at on a week-to-week, game-to-game basis based on our opponent, based on other situations once we truly get into the game. But we feel good about Jason. We feel good about the coverage guys ... to be able to have some of that ability - for lack of a better term - to dictate what's going on is something that 'Flo' (Head Coach Brian Flores) talks about."

Around the Beat

As the Dolphins surge towards December football, their eye remains on the daily prize of improvement. Joe Schad of the Palm Beach Post detailed five young players making big strides.

Dolphins On Social

On this Day in Dolphins History

December 2, 1984 - The Dolphins lose a 45-34 decision to the Raiders, but quarterback Dan Marino breaks the all-time NFL record for touchdown passes in a season with his 37th. His record-breaking touchdown pass, which came on a four-yard toss to Jimmy Cefalo in the first quarter, was the first of four on the day for Marino as he reached the 40-touchdown plateau. He also shatters Dolphin single-game records for most yards passing (470), most completions (35) and most attempts (57).

Stat of the Day

The Dolphins special teams unit ranks No. 1 on Football Outsiders. They allow the fourth-fewest punt return (56) and kick return yardage (302). They lead football in punt return yards (319) and the 24 successful field goals off the foot of Sanders are tied for third-most with Carolina.

Know the Bengals

The Bengals drafted a pair of productive rookies in April. Prior to his Week 11 injury, quarterback Joe Burrow was racking up statistics and showing the reasons Cincinnati made him the first pick in the draft; just as receiver Tee Higgins has done as the top pick of the second round (No. 33 overall). Burrow won't play Sunday, but Higgins will be on the field along with his 48 receptions, 673 receiving yards and five touchdowns.

Content on Tap

Wednesday marks the start of another week of practice as the Dolphins hit the field for initial preparations for the Cincinnati Bengals. We'll hear from Flores and a handful of Dolphins players at their press conferences and recap it all on Drive Time with Travis Wingfield as well as Top News.

Plus, we're previewing Sunday's game on both the podcast (Drive Time) and on MiamiDolphins.com.

In case you missed it, the Fish Tank dropped their newest episode. Seth and O.J. caught up with David Cross, a long-time Dolphins team photographer.

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